Police in the French city of Lyon have used teargas to disperse youths throwing stones and attacking cars, the first rioting in a major city centre.
Lyon police were out in force already when the trouble erupted
The unrest, which followed more than two weeks of violence in France's poor suburbs, occurred hours before a curfew for minors came into force in Lyon.
In Paris, a ban on public meetings has ended, with no reports of unrest.
Police overnight said the situation across France was "much calmer" than on previous nights.
More than 370 cars were burned overnight, down from 502 the previous night. A further 212 people were arrested.
In the southern town of Carpentras, a nursery school was torched and a burning car was pushed up to an old people's home, causing panic among residents.
There were disturbances in the cities of Toulouse and St-Etienne, and two riot police were injured.
The trouble began at about 1700 (1600 GMT) on Saturday on Place Bellecour, where a large number of riot police were on duty as a preventative measure.
About 50 youths attacked market stalls and damaged vehicles, witnesses told Reuters news agency. Two people were arrested.
Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy blamed the Lyon violence on a "demonstration by anarchists", but did not elaborate.
Officials in Lyon and 10 towns to the east of the city earlier announced a curfew to bar unaccompanied minors from the streets over the weekend between 2200 (2100 GMT) and 0600 (0500 GMT).
The government last week declared a state of emergency in Paris and more than 30 other areas to help quell the unrest, which has lasted 17 consecutive nights.
The Paris ban on meetings "likely to start or fuel disorder", imposed under new emergency measures, was announced after police reports of e-mails and text messages calling for "violent acts" in the city.
Provides for state of emergency, regional curfews, house searches, house arrest
Public meeting places can be closed down and media, film and theatre showings may be controlled
Breach of curfew could mean two-month jail sentence
Meeting with Paris police on Saturday night, Mr Sarkozy repeated a pledge to throw out foreign nationals caught rioting.
"If you want to live in France with a residency permit, you have to abide by the laws... Immigration laws allow expulsions. I am the interior minister and I will apply the law," he said.
There was no sign of trouble, and peaceful demonstrations were allowed to go ahead with several hundred people rallying close to police headquarters in central Paris to protest against alleged discrimination against youths of immigrant origin.
The country's unrest was triggered by the deaths in the run-down Paris suburb of Clichy-sous-Bois of two youths, who were accidentally electrocuted at an electricity sub-station.
Locals said they were fleeing police but the police deny this.